ETSU’s Jared Folks recounts career as only NCAA athlete to play 8 years


The reigning SoCon Defensive Player of the Year is second on the team in tackles

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – When ETSU linebacker Jared Folks took the field this season, he became the first NCAA athlete to play eight seasons.

The Pennsylvania native started his career at Temple, where he redshirted his freshman year and then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury the next season. He then played the next two campaigns for the Owls but decided to make the move to Johnson City.

“I put it in my GPS, never talked to Coach Sanders, never talked to Coach Taylor, and I just showed up,” Folks said. “That’s part of the journey really. Football has really done a lot for me that I don’t know if I would’ve been outside of this bubble that I would be able to accomplish.”

Since suiting up for the Buccaneers, Folks has been a menace for opposing offenses. The linebacker captured preseason All-American honors, was named the 2020 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year and led the Buccaneers in tackles that same season. It didn’t take long for the Buccaneers to notice what Folks was going to bring to the Johnson City squad.

“The second he stepped on the field, you could tell that he was something special on the field, he still had a lot of growing up to do, and I think he would tell you that,” defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Billy Taylor said.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for Folks, but there’s no doubt that he’s happy where his career has landed him.

“Have faith, trust the process, because if you would’ve asked me in 2014 would I be here standing here, talking to you and wearing pads? Nah, at least not these pads,” Folks said.

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